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Govt wants forest, timber industry policies to remain relevant

THE government is currently re-looking at its forest and timber industry policies to ensure they remain relevant and up-to-date.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan said agencies such as Forest Department, Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC), Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC) and Harwood Timber to come up with new policies which would give optimum benefits to Sarawak.

Sarawak has always practised sustainable forest management, and since 2015, under the Heart of Borneo initiative, timber licence holders have to acquire forest management certification, said Awang Tengah who is also Minister of Industrial and Entrepreneur Development in his ministerial winding-up speech yesterday.

He added that for long-term timber licence holders in areas outside the Heart of Borneo areas, they would need to acquire the forest management certification by 2022.

A total of 23 Forest Management Units (FMUs) have forwarded their forest management plan, with nine plans approved and six still under audit process. Until now, three FMUs have acquired the forest management certification.

On a related matter, Awang Tengah said the government is committed to fight illegal logging, and so far, has adopted various new technologies such as remote-sensing, hyperspectral, compact airborne tactical and drones to monitor its forest.

In the first six months of this year, 44 illegal logging cases are under investigation. Logs amounting to 6,697 metric metres with royalty value of RM435,287 have been confiscated.

From the total number of cases, one person has been brought to the court, 26 cases with no suspect and 17 under investigation.

Four individuals have been jailed for 10 months each for illegal possession of timber items, Awang Tengah added.

He also said that last year, 144 illegal logging cases were recorded, involving 18,114 metric metres of timber with RM1.17 million in royalty.


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